I’ve loved playing the guitar for nearly 50 years now. It was the one thing that grabbed my attention during my ‘formative’ years.’ Never sure why they call it your formative years, I never really formed anything and thinking back, at 15, I hadn’t a clue what the heck was going on!
While all the other lads were out playing football or chasing girls, I sat in my bedroom with my £12 plywood guitar from Kays Catalogue. One of those where you paid 2 groats a week for 750 weeks until your purchase was paid for, or in this case, long after it had gone on the bonfire.
I did learn a lot from that makeshift piece of tat with its nylon strings. I taught myself the basic chords and how to harden up the ends of my fingers on my left hand so that I can push drawing pins into solid concrete without feeling a thing! I was that keen, I used to turn the light off so I could play in total darkness so that I knew exactly where my fingers needed to be without looking.
Eventually, growing up a little bit, I found myself earning money and I must have been about 17 when I bought my first real acoustic guitar. By that, I mean a guitar that you can play without having to learn all the wrestling moves of Giant Haystacks. I also discovered that I had been tuning the instrument wrong since day one. I could play a lot of songs with the chords I had learned, but because it was out of tune, it never sounded right.
Over the years, I’ve become quite good at playing, especially finger picking style. Since moving to Wales, my wife who sings and plays the guitar a little has joined me and we do a few numbers at the local open-mic with the bar owner joining in with his saxophone. We’ve also played a little further afield and a few months ago were invited to play in a gig designed to raise money for the people of Ukraine.
I always get super nervous before a performance, so much so that I keep asking why I put myself through this? Yet once we get going, things always seem to turn out fine and I don’t want to stop playing. It’s a wonderful experience, to be able to play music with others on stage and hear an audience applauding at the end of a song. I feel so blessed by it and apart from my family, it is my greatest achievement.
Help With Performance Anxiety
P.S. At the time of the end of our performance there had been £880 raised towards the Ukraine appeal.
Header Photo by Katy Lloyd.